Discussion with neighbor caring for elderly father

March 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Archives, News

Two days ago the paramedics came and took my neighbor’s father to the hospital. I don’t know exactly how long he has been caring for him in his home. But I know it has been at least for 4 years. I know he has a professional caregiver, Mary, come 5 days a week. She stops and talks to me on her way to the bus stop while I am doing my gardening. I know he put a new air conditioner in his home just for his father last summer because he has breathing problems. He works a blue collar job so I suspect that it is not only a physical and emotional drain on him, but also a financial one. I went over to ask about his father. He went on to tell me that he probably had a stroke and now has an enlarged prostrate. When I asked when he would come home, he said they did not know if he was going to go to rehab or …his voice trailed off. I said it is a difficult decision isn’t it? Then I told him why I had not been home all summer. I explained that I was recuperating from my brief stint as a primary caregiver. We talked about the lack of sleep. His father sleeps in the same room with him so that he knows how he is doing and that he won’t get up in the night. I thought sleeping with a baby monitor was bad. But with a family member who has trouble breathing and probably keeps you awake all night. Mike seemed comforted that I understood. He was getting emotional. Then he said, “My parents always said they never wanted to go to one of those places.” All I could say was ” I don’t think anyone does.”  I told him I knew how much it takes out of one. His response, “So much in all aspects.” Again he was getting emotional and other neighbors were out around us. I told him that at this point he had to do what was best for him now. My heart went out to him. You could tell he did not talk to people about how hard it was on him. He did not tell people that it was getting to him. We had made a connection that only people in the Caregiverunderground can. I left telling him that he could always come over and talk to me anytime he wanted. I believe that we have bonded, not as neighbors, but as family caregivers. We need to reach out to each other.

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